September 23, 2007

Monday, 9/24

CS 3:45
LAT 3:16
NYS 2:56
NYT 2:46

I missed noting a couple blog milestones: Earlier this month, I published my 1,000th post. And June marked my second bloggiversary. Really? Just two years? Feels like three. And I mean that in a good way.

Fred Piscop's Monday New York Times crossword strikes me as what a Monday puzzle should strive to be—answers that sparkle, a fun theme, easy clues, and only a couple of the sort of words (e.g., Nita NALDI) that crossword junkies know but new solvers don't. The theme answers are super-fresh: HERE'S JOHNNY, THERE'S NO "I" IN TEAM, and WHERE'S WALDO. (I'm not sure how to describe the theme, exactly, but I like the trio it includes. "Johnny, Waldo, and I are all over the place"?) The fill includes all sorts of goodies: "I'D SAY" is beautifully colloquial, as are "PLAY ME, Coach," NOT A WHIT, IN BAD, and TOWNIE. A few unusual letters in PIQUE and ZEN and VENAL. SUEDE, PACMAN, SMITH, and OLDIE also lend a little zing.

Alan Arbesfeld's New York Sun puzzle is a little fancy for a Monday—look at those two corners packed with 7-letter answers! But the clues were easy enough that I filled in the theme answers without noticing what the theme was. "Unfinished States" hints that the states aren't finished, and indeed the theme entries end with MASS(achusetts), PENN(sylvania), HIT OR MISS(issippi), HAND-WASH(ington), and TAKES THE CONN(ecticut). Highlights in the non-theme answers: WEBCAMS, CZECH, ZIPS UP, HIPPO, MY HERO, and BAGEL. MANILA, [Capital of the Philippines], reminds me of the Ken Burns' WWII documentary episode I watched part of tonight. Absolutely heartrending...and I don't think I can bring myself to watch any more.

Kudos to Messrs. Piscop and Arbesfeld (and Shortz and Gordon) for a stellar pair of Monday crosswords.


Diane Baldwin's LA Times goes negative with three spoken phrases: "NOT HAPPENING!" "DON'T EVEN GO THERE." "IN YOUR DREAMS!" Yep, this theme is putting out a lot of attitude, and I don't like its tone of voice. (That's a lie—it's a fun theme.) I love goofy old words like FOLDEROL ([Nonsense]), don't you? Our language is especially rich in oddball words that mean "nonsense" (claptrap, tommyrot) or a "to-do" (kerfuffle, brouhaha, ruckus, donnybrook). The clue for ORGY cracked me up: [Sexy party]. I...guess that's apt enough, but "sexy party" seems to downplay the orgiastic aspect a tad, doesn't it?

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Taking Classes at Pun State," offers puns on possible college classes. Photojournalism and physical education become FRODO JOURNALISM and FISCAL EDUCATION, for example. (Groan.) The puzzle probably wasn't any harder than the other Monday puzzles, but my mother was asking me questions while the clock was running. V. distracting!